Disney Dining Plan Ultimate Guide

Posted in Disney World
on November 8, 2019

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Mickey Waffle

Have you heard about the Disney Dining Plan and are wondering how it works? 

Well the Disney meal plans have been around since 2005 and are basically a way to “pre-pay” for dining before your vacation starts.

In this post, I will share everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan 2020 including what’s included, the cost, and recent updates that allow for much more flexibility.

Keep in mind that the plans are certainly not for everyone on every trip, and while they seem complicated at first, are actually pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it!

If you already know the basics, check out this post for my Disney Dining Plan tips and tricks.

Who Can Use The Disney Dining Plan?

Dessert from Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary Resort

Dessert from Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary Resort

Disney Dining Plans can be used by guests staying at any Walt Disney World resort hotel. They can be purchased as part of a package that includes your room, park ticket, and dining, or included as part of a Free Dining Plan Package (more on this later).

They currently can’t be purchased by visitors staying at any hotels that are not owned by Disney (“off-property” hotels) or locals visiting for the day.

The plan also must be purchased for every night of your stay and for everyone staying in your room.

Disney Dining Plan 2020 Cost

Table at Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

There are currently three different meal plans: the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan, the Disney Dining Plan, and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan.

How Much Does The Disney Dining Plan Cost?

The cost (including tax) of the Disney Dining Plan 2020 for each night of your stay is:

  • Quick Service Dining Plan: $55.00/adult and $26.00/child
  • Disney Dining Plan: $78.01/adult and $30.50/child
  • Disney Dining Plan Plus: $94.60/adult and $35.00/child
  • Deluxe Dining Plan: $118.99/adult and $47.50/child

Here is a handy chart that shows the credits you’ll get with each plan and their cost per night of your stay in 2020:

Disney Dining Plan 2020 Prices

  Credits (per night) Cost
(including tax)
Quick Service Dining Plan 2 Quick Service Meals + 2 Snacks $55.00 (adult)

$26.00 (child)

Disney Dining Plan 1 Table Service Meal + 1 Quick Service Meal + 2 Snacks $78.00 (adult)

$30.50 (child)

Disney Dining Plan Plus 2 Meals (either Table Service or Quick Service) + 2 Snacks $94.60 (adult)

$35.00 (child)

Deluxe Dining Plan 3 Table Service OR Quick Service Meals + 2 Snacks $118.99 (adult)

$47.50 (child)

Note: Though tax is included in the cost of the plan, tips for your server at Table Service meals are not included.

Please budget to tip your server appropriately (both an 18% and 20% will be calculated for you on the receipt), even at buffets.

Each plan includes a Resort Refillable Mug (more on those soon). The children’s prices are for kids ages 3 to 9. Kids 10 and over are charged the adult price. 

How Does The Disney Dining Plan Work?

Veggie Bowl at Pecos Bill's, Magic Kingdom

Veggie Bowl at Pecos Bill’s, Magic Kingdom

Each of the dining plans includes credits that you can use all over Walt Disney World.

These credits are loaded on the Magic Bands (read all about them here) of everyone in your party as soon as you check in. If you are using online check-in you can begin using your credits as early as 6 am on your check-in day. 

You can use the credits at any point during your stay, from check-in until midnight on the day you check out.

The types of Disney Dining Plan credits are:

  • Snack Credits (most items that aren’t a meal unto themselves fall into this category)
  • Quick Service Meal Credits (i.e. meals at locations where you order at a counter as opposed to having a server)
  • Table Service Meal Credits (“Sit-down” meals – includes buffets, character meals, and signature dining)
disney world resort refillable mug - disney dining plan

Resort Refillable Mug

In addition to snack and meal credits, the meal plans at Disney include a Resort Refillable Mug with unlimited free refills for the next 14 days.

The mugs can be used at any Disney resort hotel for soda, coffee, tea, lemonade, and hot chocolate, but aren’t good for refills in the theme parks.

Soda machines are equipped with a chip reader that only dispenses the drink into a cup that is activated for that date. 

If you are changing Disney resorts (what is called a “split stay”) and get a mug during the first part of your vacation, it will continue to work for the second part. The mugs aren’t connected to a Dining Plan per se but will work for 14 days once activated. 

Disney Quick Service Dining Plan

With the Quick Service Dining Plan you’ll get two quick service credits per person per night of your trip. They can be used to dine at any Quick Service (aka counter service) restaurant at Disney World. 

Get my picks for the best quick service dining in each of the four theme parks in these posts!

fish tacos at La Cantina de San Angel in Epcot

La Cantina de San Angel

A quick service credit includes an entree and anything that comes with it (e.g. a cheeseburger that comes with fries) plus a beverage.

You can get most any beverage on the menu, including alcoholic drinks. 

With any quick service or table service meal, those over 21 can select a single-serving mixed drink, wine, or beer as their beverage with the plan. You could choose a specialty drink (such as a smoothie or milkshake) as your beverage as well.

And I am happy to report that you are not limited to certain alcoholic drinks with the Dining Plan… anything is fair game as long as it doesn’t come in a souvenir cup or serve more than one person.

If you don’t want a beverage you can usually substitute anything that qualifies as a snack credit on the menu for your drink. Most quick service dining locations allow this substitution but your mileage may vary.  

You’ll also get two snack credits per person per night and a refillable mug on the Quick Service Dining Plan. 

Disney Dining Plan

dessert at Satuli Canteen on the disney dining plan

Satuli Canteen

With the standard Disney Dining Plan you’ll get one quick service credit and one table service credit per person per night of your trip. 

Each table service meal credit includes an entree, beverage, and dessert. This credit was made more flexible in 2017 by allowing guests to choose a salad or soup (if available at the restaurant) in place of a dessert.

And as in the case with quick service meals, any single serving drink on the menu that doesn’t come in a souvenir cup is fair game – so go ahead and order that $17 glass of wine!

You are of course always allowed to order anything else from the menu that is not included in the dining plan and pay for the items out-of-pocket. This can include appetizers or add-ons to your entree. 

With the Disney Dining Plan you’ll also get two snack per person per day and a refillable mug. 

Disney Dining Plan Plus

New for 2020 is the “Plus” plan. It was developed in response to guest demand for a plan that allowed for more table service credits without going to the Deluxe plan which gives three table service credits per day. 

You get 2 meal credits per person per day that can be used for any combination of quick service and table service meals. You can of course also use two of your meal credits to dine at the Signature restaurants and others that require two credits. 

I personally am not overly excited about this plan. While it might be good for people who want to eat at more table service restaurants on their trip that the regular plan allows, I think it would be even harder to get your money out of the plan. 

I might only get it as part of “split stay”, where I have two separate reservations. I sometimes get a dining plan for the first segment of our stay to get our mugs and eat at some select restaurants that are a good value on the plan. More on that strategy next!

Disney Deluxe Dining Plan

fish entree at Disney's California Grill

California Grill

With the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan you’ll get three meal credits per person per day that can be used for table service or quick service dining. You’ll also get two snacks per person per night and a refillable mug. 

The table service credits that come with the Deluxe Plan include an appetizer, entree, dessert, and beverage. 

This plan clearly comes with a TON of food and it is very hard for most people to use all of their credits. 

The credits can come in handy when dining at a Signature restaurant, which requires two table service credits per person. These includes Disney’s “fine dining” establishments as well as Cinderella’s Royal Table and the Disney dinner shows. 

I generally do NOT recommend the Deluxe Plan – it is a ridiculous amount of food and few humans could get their money’s worth out of the plan.

The one instance for which I recommend the Deluxe plan is for a split stay – this is when you break your vacation up between two separate reservations.

Any Disney Dining Plan has to be purchased for every night of your stay and for everyone in your room. But this only means you must have it for the entire reservation – you can have it for the first part of a split stay and not the second.

If you don’t mind switching resorts once during your stay, you can rent points for just one or two nights and add the dining plan for that part of your stay.

You can add the dining Plan to a one-night reservation booked with DVC points, but you can no longer add a dining plan to a one-night reservation booked through Disney (unless it is booked with a Passholder discount). The minimum for adding the dining plan when you book directly with Disney is a two-night reservation. 

How Do I Get a Dining Plan for Free?

You may have heard of Disney’s wildly popular “Free Dining” promotion. For this offer, guests pay the regular, non-discounted rate for their hotel stay and park tickets, but get one of the dining plans at no additional cost.

A free dining package usually requires booking a minimum three-night stay and purchasing a minimum of 4-day “Park Hopper” tickets for everyone in your travel party. 

You can read everything you need to know about Disney free dining in this post.

If you are interested in booking a free dining package, I strongly suggest getting a quote from Siera with Destinations in Florida, my recommended Disney travel agent. You won’t pay anything extra and she can help you with every aspect of planning your Disney vacation!

Disney Dining Plan 2020 Restaurants

The answer to “What restaurants take the Disney Dining Plan?” is almost every restaurant at Disney World. 

Each year when the Dining Plan is released, restaurants are slowly added to the of those that accept the plan. Almost all dining establishments at Disney World take the Dining Plan.

Here are the exceptions I know of that don’t take the Disney Dining Plan:

  • Victoria & Albert’s, a fine dining restaurant at the Grand Floridian resort
  • Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in Epcot’s Italy pavilion
  • La Cava de Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion
  • Haagen-Dazs kiosk at Disney Springs
  • Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs
  • Pizza Ponte at Disney Springs
  • AMC Fork & Screen in Disney Springs
  • Pepe in Disney Springs

Everywhere else in the theme parks, at Disney Springs, and at Disney-owned resorts will accept your Disney Dining Plan credits. 

Disney Dining Plan Two Table Service Credit Restaurants

meeting aurora at Cinderella's Royal table

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Some dining locations at Disney World require two table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan.

Here is a master list of those places and where they are located:

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table – Magic Kingdom
  • Be Our Guest (dinner only) – Magic Kingdom
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue – For Wilderness
  • Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show – Polynesian Resort
  • The Hollywood Brown Derby – Hollywood Studios
  • Tiffins – Animal Kingdom
  • Le Cellier – Epcot
  • Monsieur Paul – Epcot
  • Jiko – Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Flying Fish – Boardwalk Resort
  • California Grill – Contemporary Resort
  • Citricos – Grand Floridian Resort
  • Narcoossee’s – Grand Floridian Resort
  • Yachtsman Steakhouse – Yacht Club Resort
  • Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs
  • Paddlefish – Disney Springs
  • STK Orlando – Disney Springs
  • The Boathouse – Disney Springs

Is It Worth Getting the Dining Plan at Disney World?

French Bakery in Epcot

French Bakery in Epcot

If you are like most folks visiting Walt Disney World, you have a budget that you need to stick to for your vacation. Having a pre-paid dining plan included in a package in one way to help you stay within your budget at Disney World.

Check out my post that tackles the Disney dining plan vs no dining plan question.

As an example, here is a comparison of what it would cost out-of-pocket vs. on the dining plan for a sample day at Epcot:

  Dining Plan Out-of-Pocket Cost
Breakfast – Resort Food Court 1 Snack + refillable mug Pastry – $4.79
Coffee – $2.79
Lunch – Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons 1 Quick Service Credit + 1 Snack Pressed Cubano Sandwich – $13.49
Fat Tire Amber Ale – $8.75
Fruit & Cheese Plate – $6.69
Dinner – Epcot’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall 1 Table Service Credit Adult All-You-Care-to-Enjoy Meal – $55.37 (including tax)
Viking Coffee – $9.00
Total Cost $75.49 $100.88

With this sample day, you would save $25.39 in one day for one person on the dining plan.

Keep in mind that Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is one of the priciest one table service credit restaurants at Disney World, so I wouldn’t expect to save this much every day. But if this is the type and quantity of food you would likely eat on vacation, then the dining plan might be a good fit for you!

Here’s an example of another day at Epcot that wouldn’t be such a good deal on the Disney Dining Plan 2019:

  Dining Plan Out-of-Pocket Cost
Breakfast – Resort + Fountain View (Starbucks) 2 Snacks + refillable mug Coffee Cake – $3.19
Smoothie – $4.99
Coffee – $2.79
Lunch – Katsura Grill 1 Quick Service Credit Teriyaki Chicken – $10
Soft Drink – $3.05
Dinner – Rose & Crown 1 Table Service Credit Shepard’s Pie – $20
Fountain Drink – $3
Warm Fruit Crumble –  $7
Total Cost $75.49 $54.02

Today you’d lose $21.47 with the dining plan. The main reason is eating at some of the most affordable restaurants out-of-pocket and choosing soft drinks as opposed to pricey alcoholic drinks.

So overall, if the first sample day represents how you generally like to eat on vacation, the Disney Dining Plan could work out very well for you! 

If you aren’t a buffet fan, are a lighter eater, or don’t drink alcohol with your meals, it would likely make more sense to pay out-of-pocket for your food. 

For an in-depth comparison of the Disney Dining Plan to what you can expect to pay out-of-pocket, check out this post about is the Disney meal plan worth it?

I hope this post helped you understand the basics of the Disney Dining Plan and how it works during a Disney World vacation. 

Any questions about the Disney Dining Plan 2020? Join the discussion in my free private Facebook group for my Disney-only site, The Budget Mouse!

Disney Dining Plan Ultimate Guide

54 Comments

  • Toni

    Hi hoping you can help me with this question. We,re going to Disney and got the deluxe meal plan and booking all our dinner meals. What happens if we don’t show up for one as are thinking of meeting friends who live in Orlando for dinner one night

    April 25, 2019 at 9:09 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Toni! You have to secure your reservation with a credit card and you will be charged $10 per person if you don’t show (even if you are on the Dining Plan). You have to cancel before midnight the night before your reservation to avoid this charge. Hope that helps!

      May 5, 2019 at 6:26 am Reply
  • Karen

    I have a question,

    Could I get the alcoholic beverage with my dining plan but buy a soda out of pocket during my meal?

    April 4, 2019 at 2:32 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Yes, definitely, Karen!

      April 13, 2019 at 9:42 pm Reply
  • Megan

    What is the blue and yellow cake on your title pic?

    March 1, 2019 at 11:20 am Reply
    • Leah

      It’s a cake from Contempo Cafe, the quick service location at the Contemporary Resort… updating the post to add it now – thanks!

      March 2, 2019 at 7:14 am Reply
  • Savannah

    Hi!! I have a question! I recently had baristric surgery which doesn’t allow me to consume drinks until atleast 30 mins after meals. We just booked with free dining (yay) am I allowed to get my meal with no drink and then after 30 minutes get a drink and it be okay? Or do I have to order it with my meal? Only reason I’d rather wait is I don’t want it watered down (going in July.) thanks!

    January 5, 2019 at 5:16 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Savannah! You shouldn’t have any trouble getting your drink after your meal – just make sure you explain to the cast member why you need the drink after and keep your receipt handy to show when you are ready to get your drink.

      January 5, 2019 at 7:22 am Reply
  • Annie

    Hi! We are a party of 5, 2 adults and 3 kids. We usually take the quick service plan but wanted to try the regular disney plan this year. Do we have to use 5 table service credits every time we go to a restaurant or can we share only 3 meals? My kids are NOT under 3 years old. Thanks in advance for your answer.

    December 23, 2018 at 8:57 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Annie! You can share credits as long as the restaurant isn’t a buffet or all-you-care-to-enjoy. So if it’s a place where each person can order from the menu then you can absolutely share dining plan credits!

      December 23, 2018 at 9:12 am Reply
  • Disney World Free Dining: Everything You Need To Know - The Budget Mouse

    […] pay the regular, non-discounted rate for their hotel stay and park tickets, but get one of the Disney Dining Plans at no additional […]

    September 25, 2018 at 7:18 am Reply
  • Kathy

    Hi Leah….I will be going to Disney World for the first time in November…there will be four 50+ women, two to a room. We booked through Disney but did not add a dining plan, however, we are rethinking it. My understanding is that everyone in the room has to have the same dining plan correct? Also, if we seperate, and go off and do different things, technically can your roommate use some of your snack/meal credits if they decide to go on an eating binge for the day? Are all the points loaded on each magicband? Just curious, because we are also planning a trip for late 2019 where six of will be going and possible staying in a villa so I wanted to know if everybody has access to all the eating credits. Thank you.

    August 22, 2018 at 1:15 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Great questions, Kathy! Yes, everyone on the same reservation must have the same dining plan. But if you booked the rooms separately, one room could have the plan and the other room not. The credits are “pooled” together for all of those on the reservation and yes, everyone has access to the pool of credits. Every time you use a credit it will show you on your receipt how many credits you have left, making them pretty easy to keep up with.

      August 22, 2018 at 9:15 pm Reply
  • K Lin

    Isn’t there also a charge for the character meals if you are not on the dining plan that is not added in the article calculations?

    July 2, 2018 at 7:25 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi K! There isn’t any extra charge for character meals if you aren’t on the dining plan above the per person cost. You will have to leave a tip for your server (everywhere except Cinderella’s where it is included) if you are on the plan or paying out of pocket. Here are the current costs of each Character Meal from WDWprepschool: https://wdwprepschool.com/guide-to-all-character-meals-at-disney-world/

      July 2, 2018 at 7:57 am Reply
  • Tonnie

    We are currently planning our trip to Disney World, and this time a (partial) on-site stay (1/3, then moving to off-site hotel and get a rental car for the other 2/3th of the trip)
    Because we are from europe we are looking at a disney package with 5 nights hotel and the pay 7 get 14 days Disney tickets.

    What i dislike for the dining plan is that you don’t get the credits for the park-days, because tbh we can be big eaters, but definitely not every day, and if you change light days with some more heavy eating days the dining plan doesn’t seem such a great deal, or am i missing something?

    June 7, 2018 at 5:17 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Tonnie – I did some research and looked into the Europe Free Dining Package since I thought it might differ from the US packages. It apparently has the same rule that the dining credits have to be used during your Disney resort stay – you have up until midnight the night you check out of your Disney resort to use your credits. The free dining package looks like a great deal… have you considered the quick service meal plan? You’ll still be able to pay out of pocket for a few big buffets or character meals and it isn’t as much food. Just a thought…

      June 7, 2018 at 9:14 pm Reply
  • Ellen Oakes

    We visited in February 2018 and loved the food – however the tipping seemed extreme- are you expected to tip and how much is required – also there were six adults and we were served large amounts of food – not complaining but it seemed a waste – ex. very large bowl of macaroni and cheese for only one child. Best roast turkey I ever tasted.

    March 29, 2018 at 10:19 pm Reply
    • Leah

      I totally agree with you about the portions being too big at Disney, Ellen. I guess they do it because most people expect that? I really don’t know! We often share food because of it.

      March 30, 2018 at 6:27 am Reply
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